Some of the top brass in the American military were present as RAF Fylingdales celebrated its 50th anniversary on Tuesday.
Among a large group of delegates to make the journey across the Atlantic were Lieutenant General Alain Parent of the Canadian Air Force and Lt Gen Michael Dubie, of the American Air Force.
The two generals are both deputy commanders of NORAD, the North American missile defence agency, making them major players in preventing global nuclear conflicts.
Lt Gen Dubie said: “I am here for one reason, I came from the United States to represent my country and to say thank you to the men and women who work at Fylingdales and to the citizens of this area.”
He explained that although the Cold War may have ended, RAF Fylingdales continues to be hugely important in the deterrance and monitoring of potential attacks, including those from space.
“Not only has it been important for the last 50 years, but space is increasingly important in the future, not only for future warning of ballistic missile defence,” he added. “We need to look at the threats of the future and the more vigilant and aware we can be of our threats the better we can be to protect our citizens.
“This is all about protection. This is a system that will help use to monitor missile launches and what happens in space.”
His Canadian counterpart, Lt Gen Alain Parent, added to this sentiment, saying: “We have actors in the east that wants to have access to missile technology that can reach American and Europe and so I think it’s still very strategically located.”
The visit carried extra significance as, despite the pair never having visited RAF Fylingdales before, Lt Gen Parent explained that during the 1990s he was crew commander at Cheyenne Mountain base and spoke on an almost daily basis with the team at RAF Fylingdales.
He added: “I thought this would be an awesome opportunity to come and see the team. But most of all we are here to express our thanks for the work that’s being done daily, it takes vigilance. In NORAD we say we have the watch, but Fylingdales is our eyes in the sky.”